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Max Hoffman, the legendary New York distributor of imported cars, had a good sense of the emerging American market for sports models. Having garnered the East Coast franchise for Porsche, he did well selling early 356s, and he had not failed to notice the popularity of the Jaguar XK-120. His wariness only intensified with the introduction of the Austin-Healey 100 in 1953, which sold for $2,895, a full $1,400 less than the cheapest Porsche.
Hoffman proposed to Ferry Porsche that a sportier, more basic variant, to sell at a lower price, would bring dividends. Thus was born the 356 Speedster, planned specifically for the American market. Reutter & Co., of Stuttgart, with whom Porsche already had a close relationship, supplied the body and helped with engineering, for economic purposes. A low, raked windshield was made removable for racing, and light bucket seats replaced the standard type. Side windows were omitted entirely—owners had to rely on side curtains. The top was very basic, and the only instruments were a speedometer and a temperature gauge. The tachometer and heater were optional, helping to keep the basic price under $3,000, when delivered in New York.
The Speedster was an immediate hit. Sales hit 1,800 by the time the updated 356A model was introduced in late-1955. More than 4,700 were built by the time the Speedster was phased out in favour of the Drauz-built Cabriolet D in 1958.
This superb matching numbers example was completed at the Porsche factory on the 26th of April 1957 and delivered to Hoffman Motors of New York, supplied in the stunning combination of White over a unique Blue Hide interior. At the time of production, leather was a rare option in a Speedster, rarer still, however, is the interior colour. Blue was not offered as a factory colour option, this example is the only known Speedster on the 356 registry with a full leather option. It was also fitted with the following options: Sealed Beam Headlights, USA bumpers, and a speedometer in Kilometres.
Remaining in the US, it was purchased in the early 1980's and kept at the owners estate located in the East County of San Diego. The car resided there for no less than 25 years before it was purchased in 2007 by George Alspaugh from the estate of the late owner. After its purchase, it was subjected to a comprehensive three year "nut and bolt" restoration to a most exacting original specification. George notes in the cars history file that during the restoration, every effort was made to maintain the originality of the car.
Upon completion, it attended a number of Concours events across the South West of the USA, winning on numerous occasions. Awards included Best in Show at the 2010 Arizona Region PCA Concours, 1st place at the 2010 San Diego Concours, 2nd place at the 2010 Del Mar Concours, 2nd place at the 2011 San Marino Car Classic and 2nd place at the 2011 Dana Point 356 Concours. George later sold the car in 2012 to collector Janzen Wolfgang and it was subsequently exported to Germany.
In 2016 it was purchased by its most recent keeper and exported into the United Kingdom, still having covered just 62 kms since its Concours level restoration. DK Engineering immediately inspected the vehicle, confirming both its condition and level of originality were second to none. It was then UK registered and placed into the current owner's personal state of the art storage facility. DK Engineering have since cared for the car, most recently completing a comprehensive service including a replacement clutch and flywheel in October 2017.
Today, this matching numbers Speedster has covered under 150 kms since restoration and as such, presents equal to the day it completed its most comprehensive restoration. Presented in its original combination of White over a rare Blue Hide interior and accompanied by full UK registration, a history file including a photographic record of the restoration, original tool kit, jack and tonneau cover. This unique 356 Speedster is a treasure ready to be used or shown immediately.
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